India’s ‘stats’case to Hero Intercontinental Cup triumph
The Indian national team took a positive step towards their preparation for the AFC Asian Cup 2019, as they lifted the inaugural Hero Intercontinental Cup with a 2-0 victory over Kenya on June 10. The Blue Tigers were undoubtedly the best team in the four-nation tournament organised by All India Football Federation (AIFF), which also featured Kenya, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei.
Head coach, Stephen Constantine used his players to their full potential, deploying them in their preferred positions and employing an attractive brand of attacking football. Here we look at some of the statistics from India’s triumph in the tournament.
Gurpreet’s ‘clean’ hands
Custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a tournament to remember, producing a string of fine saves over the course of the three games which he featured in. The Bengaluru FC shot-stopper registered a hat-trick of clean sheets and amassed a total of 12 saves throughout.
The Indian defence was one of the biggest assets to Constantine over the course of the tournament. Led by Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika, the backline seemed like a well-oiled machine, making the opposition attackers work their socks off to get the better of them. The defenders registered an impressive tally of 17 successful tackles, 117 clearances and 26 blocks in four games.
Anirudh Thapa and Pronay Halder were the stalwarts in the centre of the pitch. The 20-year-old Thapa was one of the standout performers of the tournament and has the numbers to back him up. The Chennaiyin FC midfielder created five chances, the most among the Indian midfielders and also contributed with two assists. The young prodigy also completed a total of 86 successful passes and eight successful tackles.
Pronay Halder’s performances will surely give Constantine a selection headache for the AFC Asian Cup 2019. The FC Goa midfielder, who replaced Rowllin Borges as the chief disruptor at the centre of the pitch, completed the most number of passes in the side with 91. Halder also pulled seven tackles and chipped in with a stunning long-range effort, his maiden goal for India, in the first game against Chinese Taipei.
Lethal attacking force
The forward duo of Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua proved to be a nightmare for opposition defences. Captain Chhetri enjoyed his most prolific international tournament as he scored eight goals in four games - averaging two goals a game. The Bengaluru FC marksman, who featured in every single minute of India’s cup triumph, had a total of 11 shots on target- the most by any player in the tournament. The striker was rightly named the ‘Hero of the Tournament’ for his exploits on the pitch.
Mizo Sniper Jeje capped his 50th International appearance for the Blue Tigers when he came on as a substitute in the fixture against New Zealand. The 27-year-old scored one goal and two assists to add to his impressive tally for the national team. His chemistry with Sunil Chhetri upfront proved to be India’s greatest weapon. The Chennaiyin FC striker primarily acted as the provider for Chhetri and ended up creating nine chances, the most amongst the Indians.